“You can only come to the morning through the shadows” – JRR Tolkien
I love a good story. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors. Not so much because I like fantasy, but I love truth that’s clothed in story. Tolkien, Chesterton, CS Lewis, George MacDonald all knew how to write truth, dressed up like a story. One of the truths that comes out over and over from these writers is the truth that darkness comes before morning, sorrow comes before joy, the battle comes before the victory, the struggle comes before the win.
The struggle comes before the win
But when it comes to building a homestead, or growing the life that you want, it’s hard to remember that the struggle comes first. I talked to you about resistance a while back and about how you have to fight through it to realize your dream. Mr. Joybilee and I were discussing this last night. It seems that when you are doing what you are called to do– the thing you were born for — there’s a war that surrounds it. Doesn’t seem to matter if its writing your story, growing your garden, raising lambs organically, playing guitar for the worship team, or speaking in public. Every step forward seems to be a battle. Other people don’t co-operate. You receive criticism. Your motives are questioned. You have to fight your own inertia, too. There is even an interference that defies logic — a spiritual resistance. And it’s easy to give in and just “go with the flow.” Take the path of least resistance. Live and let live. But that would be a huge mistake.
Resistance at work
Before Mr. Joybilee started the job he has now, he farmed full time. It was a 10 year project of full time farming, living off the land, selling the fruit of our labour to buy food for our animals. We weren’t in it for the money. But we still needed to eat and pay our bills. To supplement our farming income, Mr. Joybilee took on a weekly cleaning job — that’s right, Mr. Joybilee with his accounting designation and master’s degree took on a janitorial job for $12 per hour. Twice a week, the 3 of us headed into a church to do custodial work and pray through the building — a spiritual cleaning, if you will.
It cost us more to go into church to clean than we actually made in some months, due to the battle and resistance. One day on the 30 km drive to the church, a truck passing us in the oncoming lane chucked up a rock the size of my fist, and smashed it through the driver’s window, barely missing Mr. Joybilee’s head, and completely shattering the window. It was a shock. And the sound was like a gun shot, followed by falling glass. That month it cost us more to drive in to work than Mr. Joybilee was paid for the job.
On another trip into the church to clean and pray, a rock flew up and hit the radiator on our car. It left a 1/2 inch hole, draining the radiator and leaving us fluid-less, 15 km from town on a snowy mountain highway, in February. We limped into town by pouring water from our drinking bottles into the radiator and going until the steam started rising. Stopping letting it cool, and adding more water. It took a couple hours at the garage to solve the problem. Yet, another month when the cheque didn’t cover the expense.
On several occasions moose or deer gave us pause and not a few adrenal boosts. Now you wouldn’t think that was such a big deal. Except that since Mr. Joybilee started working for the city, using his experience and education as an administrator, and we stopped cleaning the church, never once have we had a problem or resistance on the way to church. But on the way to City Hall Mr. Joybilee dropped the works out of our farm truck. It took 3 months to get it fixed and put back together. Our mechanic said he has never seen a truck so badly damaged all at once. When you are doing what you are supposed to be doing there will be resistance.
Knowing that there will be a battle can help you discern what you are called to do, and give you the courage to fight through. Ok, I can already hear the arguments and objections. Homesteaders are counter-culture-people, after-all, so I’m not surprised. You want to know if I’m saying that the thing you love to do and find easy to do then, isn’t what you are called to do? I didn’t say that. Then, you say, am I saying that every time there is a fight, that that’s revealing to you the area that you are “called” to? I didn’t say that either, but that might be worth exploring.
Perhaps the thing that you find easy to do and love to do is what you are called to do, but you need to go deeper, and become an expert in that area. And that expertise is where you find resistance. Or perhaps the fight that you are having is an indication that you are on the wrong path, in an area where you lack giftedness, and need to change course. Only you know if you are heading in the right direction.
Back to the resistance. Does your homestead have a purpose? Is there a motivation for what you do that goes beyond your own hunger and satiation? Is there a battle or an uphill fight that you are facing? Sometimes it helps to explore these questions in your journal, to come to a definite sense of the reasons behind your homestead yearnings. Knowing the deeper reason behind what you want your life to look like can help when the resistance comes up. The resistance has a purpose.
Resistance has a purpose
Resistance is your friend. There’s two gifts that resistance offers you. Resistance shows you where there is a problem and can indicate your next step. Fight through the resistance and your way will be clear for the next step on your journey. Ignore the resistance or take the easy path and you will find yourself confronted with the same issues over and over again. Problems, like character weaknesses, or unresolved issues, don’t go away, until they are worked on or dealt with.
As a young wife, I struggled to bear children, and the battle of child bearing was more than I could handle, alone. It brought up flashbacks of abuse and trauma from early childhood, that I would rather forget, and the emotional pain, was compounded by pregnancy illness and losses. My doctors advised me to forget having children. I was offered drugs to numb the emotional pain and stop the anxiety. And with every pregnancy loss, I was advised to give up my dream of having children. I lost 5 babies from 12 to 16 weeks along.
You’ve heard about Sarah, my 20 year old daughter? I was sick for the whole 7 months of her gestation. I was advised to abort her, due to the emotional and physical struggles of hyperemesis gravidarum and idiopathic jaundice. At 12 weeks I started having contractions and was on bedrest, with two other children to take care of. Then when she was born 8+ weeks early, I was told that she would be mentally retarded, that her vision would be impaired and she’d suffer from a host of other critical issues because of her prematurity. When I was in labour the nurses told me that I “should have aborted”. The whole birth experience was surrounded by negativity and angst from the nursing staff at Abbotsford General Hospital. When the pediatrician discharged her at 2 weeks old — did I mention she was born over 8 weeks premature — the intensive care nurse refused to walk with Mr. Joybilee out to the car to ensure that Sarah was properly supported in the car seat, against hospital policy. The whole experience was full of skirmishes at every turn. Sarah is a miracle. I’m so grateful that I didn’t listen to the lies of the “easy road,” and instead fought through the resistance. Today Sarah is a 3 rd year university student at Moody, and is visiting Israel, to test if this is where God is leading her next. She has a heart to serve.
Oh, and after Sarah was born I fired my doctors, tossed away their advice and their prescription meds and surgical interventions, and started on the road to healing. That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about herbal medicine and whole foods.
Resistance’s other gift is the indication of where your calling lies. If the road is rough and the path is steep, and the way ahead seems hidden in shadow, that’s your clue. God wants you to seek Him and His wisdom for your journey. So if you can see the way clear ahead for miles and miles, better check the map. You could be on the wrong road. Just saying.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” Matthew 7:13, 14 ESV
Thank you for sharing, Chris. I know that God has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life and led me to the path I was supposed to take. I only had to listen, but I’m stubborn enough that sometimes he has to figuratively hit me over the side of the head to make me change my path.
Oh, and I received the Tropical Traditions prize package yesterday – It was very difficult to not go bubbling to my mom when you emailed me that I won, but I held out – she was so excited! Thank you so very, very much!!!
Joybilee Farm says
Awesome! So glad your mom loved it. Agree with you about God having to smack us sometimes to get our attention. But He is a loving shepherd that knows what each of us need.